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Paul’s Knowledge of New Doctrine and Those Who Resist It

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I was watching an interesting interview on TV the other day.  The interviewer is known for their “spiritual” approach to life – but really finding “God” in all wrong places compared to a Biblical understanding.  The interviewee and interviewer were in agreement as to how “God” is found > for instance:  in the silence of the woods sitting and enjoying a grassy area, smelling the grass, and sensing in the quietness … a recognition of “God” and birth of spirituality [this birthing process is not limited to the woods, it can be any “epiphany” experience].  The interviewee stated that they had found God *in* music in that special place and equates that with their “birth” of spirituality leading them to 40 years as one of the most famous musical entities of our time.  The interviewer remarked, closing out the TV special, that God IS the music, not just IN the music.

Thus began several hours of this writer’s introspection as to why people get so caught up into the “spiritual” but totally miss the Spirit of Almighty God – due to their search for “the experience”.  I reminisced, going back to those points in my life when I had run after the elusive – believing I too had found all the answers in spiritual experiences and equating them to be about “God”.  Much like the person above who sought after the elusive experience on which their belief system was founded, I recognized the longing and the desire to be “special” even within the framework of what I believed to be Biblical, but was in reality a dense spiritual “mist” that fogged up my perception.

A friend remarked to me that these kinds of spiritual experiences and expectations were nothing more than free ice cream.  They taste good and make you feel fabulous …. a person can come up with a pretty amazing multiple-scoop cone, depending on who is offering such delights in the name of spiritual excellence.

Since the beginning of the world, people have searched for the spiritual.  Adam and Eve were tempted to be like God – satan’s first offering of his kind of “ice cream”.  The Tower of Babel comes to mind as well.  Even in that ancient time, men built a tower to reach into the Heavens to touch God > the “ultimate ice cream cone”!  It has become “faddish” to want nothing more than to “feel” God – to bring Him down to our likeness, to our standards of emotion and perceptions – as if the experience has achieved a God-like “high” and one has “arrived” on some superior spiritual level making their ice cream cone a wondrous display of the experiential to be envied and desired.

What does all this have to do with Messianic Hebrew Roots?  The ongoing “flavor of the week” is the tallit or prayer shawl [Although, to be fair – some segments of Christianity have topped the “cone” with it as well].   This “flavor” has been browsed so many times in the search engines that people pop up on this blog looking for information on it more than any other topic.  And no surprise.  Of all the concepts in HR, this one captivates a “feely touchy” mystic [read “kabbalah”] two-fold experience … to be reminded of the Mosaic Law and to enter one’s “prayer closet” > those being the two central themes of necessity to find favor with God and to be “holy”. 

In order to bind the tallit more snuggly to one’s spiritual “etherealistic” expectations, a bunch of teachings ranging from the sheet [tallit] let down in Peter’s vision; to Jesus [wearing a “talitha” :) ] raising the young woman [= talitha] from the dead; to “God’s tallit” in the sky = Heavens; to the “the chupah [covered four cornered wedding arch] = a tallit”, etc.  Added to that is the wringing out from a variety of OT texts, the tallit, as “special revelation”.  All this free ice cream makes for one huge sloppy mess – almost impossible to eat, but profusely dribbling down from the chins of those who dote on these things. The bottom line is that the tallit did not exist in Biblical times.  It was added to Judaism through their Rabbinical interpretation system in the middle ages.  The word “tallit” is not even a Biblical Hebrew word > it’s Yiddish [13th century]!  The HR “teachers of greater truth” are offering free ice cream from a soggy dripping cone.

Is this different than a person who chases after an elusive “epiphany” experience believing they have “found” what they believe is “God” through some magical aura in which they “sense” the spiritual and believe it is “the real thing”?  The “thing”, the “experience” … is not God and it is not about God.  It is a feeling that equates knowledge with the four senses. Knowing God is by blind faith, not by seeing, touching/feeling, smelling or hearing something ethereally emotional and making that about God … because when the “feeling” or “thing” becomes about God, it is just plain free ice cream.  It gives a sugar rush for the moment, but it has nothing to do with the Lord God Almighty and serving Him.

 

2 Cor 11:3  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

2 Cor 11:4  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

2 Co 11:12  But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

2 Co 11:13  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

2 Co 11:14  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

2 Co 11:15  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

 

 

 

 

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Myth. Jesus celebrated Hanukkah not Christmas, and we should be celebrating Chanukkah instead of pagan Christmas.

A.   Hanukkah is a celebration and holiday within Judaism about the Jewish people, for practicing Jews of Judaism only. It is an offence to them for Gentiles and those outside of Judaism to participate in this holiday and we as believers in Jesus Christ are called to cause none offence.

Although it is suggested that Hanukkah be celebrated because of the universal desire of mankind for liberty, within Judaism many believe it to be a memorial about the historical and ongoing conflict of Jewish culture and faith versus non-Jewish beliefs and what many call the Gentile/Greek influences and faith.

Others articulate that the celebration of these festivals is to continue strengthening the Jewish people in all aspects of their lives. The very name of Hanukkah imparts the belief that when Jews have dedicated themselves to their faith and through the pursuit of their religious ideals, Judaism is strong. The goal then is to strengthen the Jewish religion and their people and that is what is being commemorated in celebrating Hanukkah.1

Also called Lights, The Feast of Lights, or Feast of the Maccabees, 2 the historical name for the festival was not the Feast of Lights but the Feast of Fire. 3.  Hanukkah, (also Hannukah, Chanukkah, Chanukah) which means Dedication, commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after having been desecrated by Gentile forces. Based on the Maccabean revolt (discussed below), and victory over Antiochus of Syria, the subsequent cleansing and rededication of the temple, culminated in the legend of the oil burning in the temple eight days, which many believe is true.

Jewish Rabbi Daniel Kohn, in answer to the question, “Is the miracle of Chanukah made up?” stated that the whole concept of the miracle of the oil, was indeed untrue. While stating that the actual lighting of the Menorah for the dedication of the Temple was real and based on spiritual significance, the rabbinic writings in the Talmud took the shift from the Maccabeean military victory to that of a claimed miracle of the oil for the Menorah. 4

The perceived glory of the Maccabean victory became overshadowed due to all they did that caused harm to fellow Jews and their focus became viewed as dangerous and containing seditious ideas that were to be suppressed. The fear of glorifying the military success of the Maccabeans while under Roman rule, formed the basis for the idea of inventing the story of the miracle of the oil to become the focus and with it, masked the truth about the Maccabees and their shameful legacy for many years. By reinventing the stories, the rabbis kept the holiday alive with a shift in focus and thereby inserted more religious significance. 5

Celebrated anywhere from late November to late December, for many within Judaism the eight day holiday has become very much a children’s holiday, reminiscent of Christmas and (for some) instead of Christmas, celebrated with decorated and lit Hanukkah ‘bushes’. It is a time when family comes together to commemorate this holiday by lighting a candle and exchanging gifts for each of the eight days, and eating special food. Traditionally children received gifts of coins which were meant as a remembrance of the coins minted by the Maccabee state after the military victory. The receiving of gifts on each of the eight days became a later tradition, meant to parallel what is done at Christmas with Christians, although Christians that do exchange gifts normally do so only on one day. Prayers and Psalms are recited according to Talmudic and kabbalist traditions. The prayers and recitations during Hanukkah have much to do with the view of the Jews’ salvation[s], redemption and miracles via God using the Maccabees and other people/wars/events historically.

Hanukkah in the Scriptures

The Hebrew word of hanukkah or chanukkah is used in the Old Testament eight times. It means ‘dedication.’ and is found in Numbers 7:10, 11, 84, 88; 2 Chronicles 7:9; Nehemiah 12:27 and Psalms 30:1. The secondary language found in the Old Testament, Aramaic, uses hanukkah precisely four times, in Daniel 3:2,3 and Ezra 6:16 & 17 and spells it chanukka. Invariably, the word hanukkah refers to the dedication of the altar in front of the Tent of Meeting, the Temple built by Solomon, or the wall of Jerusalem. The two times in Daniel 3 it is not used for those purposes, but rather is found used in reference to the dedication and worship of the image of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Those that refused to worship it were to be thrown into a fire.

Daniel 3:3…. were gathered together  unto the dedication <chanukka’ (Aramaic)> of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up…”6

The one Scriptural reference to dedication in the New Testament is found in John 10:22. Many Messianics are using this passage to say that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah and therefore that means we should.

It is necessary to view the passage of John 10 as a whole first, and read the whole chapter because the verse in reference to the feast of dedication, does not in fact say that Jesus was celebrating it. It was a statement of what time of year it was.

John 10:22  And it was at  Jerusalem the feast of the dedication <egkainia>, and  it was winter.

G1456 >dedication <egkainia> 1456. ἐγκαίνια  egkainia

Thayer Definition:

1) dedication, consecration

1a) in particular the annual feast celebrated eight days beginning in the 25th of Chislev (middle of our December), instituted by Judas Maccabaeus [164 BC] in memory of the cleansing of the temple from the pollution of Antiochus Epiphanes”  7

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries > 1456…Neuter plural of a presumed compound from G1722 and G2537; innovatives, that is, (specifically) renewal (of religious services after the Antiochian interruption): – dedication.

Prior to verse 10:22, we see that the context began while Jesus was teaching in the Temple from chapter 8:

John 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

John 8:52-54 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:

Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. [KJV]

Jesus healed the blind man just after leaving the scene at the Temple, John 9:1, and said:

John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

John 9:14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

Joh 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. [KJV]

Summary –the Jews cast out the blind man cured by Jesus. Jesus finds him and reveals who He is and the healed man believes and worships Him.

–the Pharisees there witness this and are told they are blind

10:1-5–the sheepfold parable-the Pharisees did not understand

10:6-16–about the sheepfold, Christ the door of the sheep, Christ the good Shepherd, the hirelings, laying down His life for the sheep,

Jesus had been healing and teaching prior to healing the blind man, and the Pharisees were disputing him, some claiming He had a devil. Starting at verse 10:17, it says the following:

John 10:17  Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
19  There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20  And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
21  Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? 22  And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23  And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
24  Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us
plainly. 25  Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
26  But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
30  I and my Father are one.
31  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33  The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,
40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. 42 And many believed on him there.
[KJV]

Many of the Jewish and Gentile people gathered in Solomon’s porch because it was winter and it was cold. Solomon’s porch bordered the outer court and was where the Gentiles congregated, because they were not allowed into the inner court with the Jews. Jews could interact with the Gentiles on the porch, which was located on the east side of the outer court of Herod’s Temple, i.e. the Second Temple. There was a sign posted at the inner court warning all non-Jews that to enter would be punishable by death. The actual quote inscribed on the sign tablet[s], read:

“No foreigner may enter within the railing and enclosure that surround the Temple. Anyone apprehended shall have himself to blame for his consequent death!” 8

Alfred Edersheim suggests in his writing, The Temple-It’s Ministry and Service in the time of Jesus Christ, written during his seven volume work from 1876-87, “…These halls or porches around the Court of the Gentiles must have been most convenient places for friendly or religious intercourse- meetings or discussions.” 9

Jesus went to where the people were and spoke the truth of who He was. He was not received by most of the Jews present, especially the Pharisees, which many Messianics claim Jesus was celebrating with. They, in fact, wanted to stone Him. There is nothing that says Jesus entered into any celebration. From what is stated in this chapter, the preceding and following chapters and verses, Jesus was there to share the things of God and who He was/is. He was about His Father’s business. And when they tried to seize Him, He left Jerusalem.

Unlike the Maccabees, whose original mission was to protect and include the Jews and their beliefs while excluding Gentiles and their beliefs, Jesus came to include all mankind who believed in Him, so they could be part of the kingdom of God which He was building. Jesus was teaching that He was the Good Shepherd and that not only were there going to be ‘other sheep’, meaning the Gentiles, brought into the sheepfold with the Jews but, all must enter the sheepfold through Him. The resulting flock of sheep would be comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles, which was prophetic and part of the Abrahamic covenant from Genesis

These teachings are contrary to the Hanukkah festivities and focus, which was/is to separate fully from anything or anyone non-Jewish, and celebrate the Maccabees, with the focus of some on that ‘messiah.’

In sharp contrast to the Maccabean mission of physical liberty through war, self focus and revolt to the governing authorities, disassociation and for some, resentment or hatred for those outside of Judaism, Jesus instead taught of loving enemies and forgiving and bringing those viewed as unclean into the fold through the only door that would make all spiritually clean. Himself. He taught and fulfilled, for example, the Isaiah prophecy of making God’s house a house of prayer for all people. He taught that all mankind, not just the pagan Gentiles, needed His cleansing.

Isaiah 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.  [KJV]

Jesus often made a distinction between ‘the religion of the Pharisees’ and what He and the Scriptures said. That is why many could not receive Him. They went by man made religion and thought over the Truth in the Scriptures. The Scriptures were there for them. Jesus said so.

John 5:39  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. [KJV]

Regarding Hanukkah, there is no doubt that if the legend of the oil was true in that God kept the oil burning for 8 days, He is more than able. However, Hanukkah is not about God, but rather about the Maccabees and the Jewish people within the religion of Judaism. God was very specific about how the Menorah was to be made, with 7 candlesticks. There was no divine directive to change that or celebrate with anything different, or in fact, change the law of Moses. God forbids the changing of His commandments and the adding to them, and yet we have Messianics following rabbinic traditions that do just that. That Judaism elevates their traditions and writings of the sages (found within the Talmud and kabbalah) above the Scriptures is what makes Judaism what is today. It is totally separate from what Christians or those who believe Jesus are to be about.  And that is the issue. The things of Christ are not about days and such, nor is our focus or glorying to be on man, but God alone:

Colossians 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;  [KJV]

For Christians , we need to apply the verses:

1 Thessalonians 5:21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.   [KJV]

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Myth: Hanukkah commemorates the miracle of the oil and the victory of the Maccabees over the Gentile rule and should be celebrated by those in Hebrew Roots or Messianics instead of pagan Christmas.

A. Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration for the Jewish people. It was never to be including those outside of Judaism. The historical facts show a far different story than many weave to bring others into celebrating this event. The Maccabee’s story is central to understanding what is legend and what is fact.

The Maccabean Revolt

The revolt that inspired the keeping of Hanukkah was through the actions of Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons: Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah, who eventually led the uprising. This small group of Jews called the Maccabees rebelled and risked their lives to, “live according to Jewish law,” and to prevent any further desecration of the Temple. 1

The story of the Maccabees and the Maccabean Revolt was reportedly commissioned by the Maccabees themselves, and is found in the Apocrypha’s 1st & 2nd Maccabees, which are found in Catholic and some Protestant Bibles. However, none of those writings are found in Jewish Bibles, but rather, the Maccabean Revolt is found referenced to in the extra-biblical writings of the Talmud. 2

From those and other historical sources such as Josephus’ Antiquities, we know that Antiochus or “Epiphanes”, outlawed the practice of Judaism prior to the second century BC. Idols and altars were established throughout Jerusalem where sacrifices were made to the various ‘gods’. In full rebellion to Almighty God, an idol was erected in the Temple, with many historically believing it to be an image of Zeus. Jews who disobeyed the directive to burn their Torah scrolls and cease from practicing Judaism were murdered. By about 167 BC, Mattathais Maccabees and his sons determined to stop the sacrilege of the Temple and proceeded to overthrow the Syrians. Judah Maccabees took the lead and the Jews recaptured the Temple. According to the various writings, they rededicated the altar on the 25th of Kislev, that is, November-December. The celebration for the dedication of the altar went on for eight days followed by the rededication of the Temple to God. 3

Following the Maccabean War, peace was re established temporarily with the Seleucids, and the Maccabean state became known as the Hasmoneans. They did not cease their war however, but discarded the temporary peace and continued with a civil war against the Seleucids and Hellenized Jews within Jerusalem. It was then that the Maccabees commissioned and paid for the writing of their war history called I Maccabees, which was fully propaganda about their exploits. Jewish loyalists called the Hasidism, who had also been against the Hellenizing Jews, were outraged not only by that propaganda, but also by the Maccabees claim to political and religious power. In response they formed a new opposition political party called the Perushim aka the Pharisees, who were separatists. 4

It was descendents of those Pharisees that Jesus dealt with many times and it was they who tried to stone Him and in the end, most rejected Him.

The Pharisees eventually became the Rabbis, who (years later) were responsible for writing the Mishnah and Talmud, and through them kept their hatred of the Maccabees entrenched in the writings. The Pharisees believed the Maccabees had committed blasphemy by uniting the political power seat with that of the priesthood. The Maccabees had used their military power to forcibly expand the Jewish kingdom by becoming a military dictatorship, forcing such as the Idumeans (Edomites descended from Esau) to convert to Judaism and follow the laws and rituals, as well as submit to the Jewish government. It became obvious that the more successful and wealthy they became, the more Hellenization took place within Jewish society. They became the major force behind it, doing exactly what they started out to overthrow.  Their political rule was eventually terminated by the conquest of the Romans. By the time of the Rabbis, the descendents of the Pharisees and Hasidism, Israel had faced massive loss of life, not just in the initial revolt, but in the following civil war where Jew rose up against Jew.  5

Jewish Rabbi Daniel Kohn, in answer to the question, “Is the miracle of Chanukah made up?” stated that the whole concept of the miracle of the oil, was indeed untrue. The actual lighting of the Menorah for the dedication of the Temple was real and based on spiritual significance, but the rabbinic writings in the Talmud took the shift from the Maccabees military victory to that of the claimed miracle of the oil for the Menorah. 6

The perceived glory of the Maccabean victory became overshadowed due to all they did which caused harm to fellow Jews, and their focus became viewed as dangerous and containing seditious ideas that were to be suppressed. The fear of glorifying the military success of the Maccabeans while under Roman rule, formed the basis for the idea of inventing the story of the miracle of the oil. By making the oil the focus, they masked the truth about the Maccabees and their shameful legacy for many years. By reinventing the stories, the rabbis kept the holiday alive with a shift in focus and thereby inserting more religious significance, which in turn used to strengthen and build Judaism.  7

As an added point, the Eastern Orthodox Church venerates the Maccabees as Saints and The Dictionary of Bible and Religion suggests that the Maccabees were exalted to the point of Messiah.  8  Many venerated Judah Maccabees specifically as the awaited Messiah. These are the facts surrounding Hanukkah.

Some Further History on Jews Killing Jews

As stated above, while many celebrate Hanukkah and the Maccabees, what many do not realize is that the Maccabees themselves became a destructive force to Judaism.

For many years, Hanukkah symbolized the overthrow of pagan Gentile influence from Jewish spirituality, and the rededication to God and the Mosaic Law. However, history reveals that the wrath which was dealt out by the Maccabees did not end the path of disaster which Israel had been treading. Whether reading ‘Gentile’ historical or Jewish resources, the end result was that the Maccabees became power hungry and corrupt. What started out for many as a zealous spiritual endeavor based on wrath, became immersed in corruption, murder and destruction, and the eventual act of Jews killing Jews. The war and rebellion became a civil war. According to Josephus in his Antiquities, within 65 years of the initial revolt, a challenge was put forth by a number of Pharisees towards one of the corrupt leaders of the Maccabees, one Alexander Janneus. During the Feast of Tabernacles, Alexander who was performing as high priest, corrupted the libation ceremony by pouring the water over his feet instead of on the altar as the Pharisees had decreed. [Please note this ceremony was not from the God-given Law, but added in and decreed by the Pharisees as part of their oral traditions.] In response, the religious Jews pelted him with lemons. It was after that time that Janneus had a partition-wall of wood built around the altar and the temple, where it was only lawful for the priests to enter. In this way, he kept the multitude of Jews from coming at him. 9 Outraged by the lemon incident, Janneus ordered his soldiers to slay 6,000 of the Jews, resulting in a civil war which lasted six years and by the end, approximately 50,000 Jews were killed. At the end of the war, the Jewish soldiers were ordered by Janneus to crucify 800 of the Pharisees. He then ordered the throats of their children and wives cut, while they watched. 10

The initial Revolt lasted about four years, from 167-163 BC. By 66 AD, the Zealots again revolted against their Gentile oppressors. Just as with the earlier Maccabees, again the revolt ended with Jews killing Jews, and many would agree that it changed the course of Jewish history forever. Many know that by 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Temple, burned Jerusalem, and slaughtered thousands of people. The last stronghold at Masada ended with the rebel Jews committing suicide.

From a Christian perspective we know that Jesus foretold of the destruction of the Temple.(Matthew 24) Many view it as a physical ending of the sacrificial system and the change in priesthood, meaning also the closing of the door on the Mosaic covenant with the fulfillment of the promised New Covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Isaiah 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

Isaiah 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Isaiah 49:22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.

It meant that now all, both Jew and Gentile, could come to God through Jesus Christ who was the final sacrifice, once for all.

Ephesians 2:13-19 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16. And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17. And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

There is no need for a Temple, because Jesus is the Temple and has also made us the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The sacrifice of our bodies and the sacrifice of praise take the place of the offerings.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. [KJV]

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Myth: God ordained Hanukkah and it is Scriptural, therefore Messianics and Christians should celebrate it instead of Christmas. The ceremonies are found in the Scriptures.

A. There is no Scripture that suggests that God commanded or suggested the keeping of Hanukkah. It is not found in the commandments given to Moses for Israel and is not listed in any of the feasts or holidays commanded by God. It was first celebrated by the Maccabees and became a religious holiday which became enforced by the Pharisees and rabbis through the Talmud. It was not God ordained in the Scriptures.

In Rabbi Hyam Maccoby’s, Revolution in Judaea, and as discussed in the article, To Embrace Hebrew Roots: Part II : The Bible & The Talmud, he noted that the Pharisees brought in many traditions, observances and festivities which were not part of the written law of Moses given by God. These additional traditions, often referred to as the oral law, are what were rejected by the Sadducees. However, most Jews defend and fully support the additions found throughout the Rabbinic writings of the Talmud and Kabbalah, which have become ingrained in Judaism as it is known today. According to Hyam Maccoby, the Pharisees not only added the festivals of Hanukkah and Purim, they added to the canon of Scripture and added new doctrine to Judaism, which included new rites to Temple worship, and they have continually brought in new prayers and ceremonies for use in Jewish synagogues. These are all additions that many Messianic congregations also utilize and participate in. 1

The principal source for the story of Hanukkah and the legend of the oil is found in the Talmud and many Jewish and non-Jewish sources discuss the fact that the legend of the oil burning for eight days in the Temple is just that, legend. Which brings one to an interesting point.

We have been told that most Messianics do not approve of, nor do they embrace the teachings from the Talmud, although some have admitted to this author that they do, and one merely needs to peruse the writings of many leadership to see they do. And of course the activities and Messianic dress is based on rabbinic aka talmudic or kabbalist traditions. So, why are most using the Legend of the Maccabees and the associated Miracle of the Oil story to enter into the celebration for that Legend?

Hanukkah Ceremonies

The 9-candle menorah (Chanukiah) is used to celebrate Chanukah and contemporary use of it is in celebration of the victory of what many view as a Messiah, Judas Maccabees and his brothers. The story includes the cleansing of the Temple and the legend of oil miraculously burning for eight days.

Some suggest that initially, the lighting of the Temple menorah in the rededication ceremony  was based on the commandment to light the Menorah with pure oil as is written in Leviticus 23 and 24. That was immediately followed by the commandment to observe the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot festival for 8 days, which means 7 days of  Sukkot followed by Shemini Atzere. “The Sages saw this as a Divine hint that Chanukah should be for 8 days.” 2   The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated in the fall, not late November to late December when Hanukkah is celebrated, yet this conflict does not appear to be noticed by most.

Following the seven days of Sukkot, the eighth day is called Shemini Atzeret, which literally means “the assembly of the eighth day”. It is actually a separate holiday from Sukkot, and does not involve the special rituals of Tabernacles. Rabbinic writings (Talmud) explain it that, “our Creator is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day”. Another explanation is that Sukkot is a holiday for all of mankind to participate in, but when it is over, only the Jewish people are invited by God to stay the eighth day for a more intimate celebration with Him. 3

According to the teachings of Kabbalah and Hasidism, the eighth day for Hannukah is the final ceremony for when the dedication of the altar took place by the Maccabees and it is  the “seal” of the High Holiday season of Yom Kippur (day of atonement) , and is therefore considered a time to repent out of love for God. Due to this belief,  many Hasidic Jews greet each other with the traditional Yom Kippur wish, “may you be sealed totally for good”. It is taught in Hasidic and Kabbalistic literature that this day is particularly favorable for answers to prayers. 4

Through kabbalah’s gematria, eight is viewed as representing the Jewish People’s special role in human history. Seven is the number of days of creation, meaning the completion of the material cosmos, and planets and eight represents the Infinite. The Eighth Day of the Assembly festival, is according to Jewish Law a festival for Jews only. Similarly, in Judaism the rite of circumcision which brings a Jewish male into God’s Covenant, is performed on the eighth day. In Judaism, Hanukkah’s eight days celebrate their  victory over Hellenistic humanism,  and as such have great symbolic importance for practicing Jews.

To simplify, what they are saying regarding the implementation of this holiday, is that within Judaism’s writings, they changed the timing, purpose and length of the Feast of Tabernacles as ordained by God and as described in Leviticus in the Law of Moses. They then ascribed to it the new celebration proclaimed by the Maccabees and which was then enforced by the writings of the rabbis in the Talmud. That despite the very clear warning by God to not add to or change what He had commanded in the Law.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

…12:28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.

…12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. [KJV]

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Myth: The Hanukkah Menorah with nine candles symbolizes Christ and therefore all Messianics and Christians should be celebrating Hanukkah instead of pagan Christmas.

The Candle Question & Messianics

A. The Hanukkah festival is observed in Judaism by the lighting of a special nine candle Menorah, although the Menorah ordained by God for the Temple has seven candles. One candle is lit per night, and each additional candle is lit on each night of the holiday, progressing to the eighth on the last night. The ninth candle, separated either above or below the rest, is called the ‘shamash’ or guard or servant candle, which is lit each night in order to light the other candles. It’s purpose is fully secular, not religious, and is strictly for Judaism to which this holiday belongs.

According to the Talmud, the purpose of the extra light is to adhere to the prohibition, specified in Tracate Shabbat 21b–23a, against using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than publicizing and meditating on the Hanukkah story. 1

And yet, we have Messianics who utilize the rabbinic writings, including the Talmud and the Zohar which is the kabbalah, and state that the whole use of 9 candles was a prophecy about Christ.

Some Messianics also align Chanukah to a celebration of the conception of Mary, with some going so far as declaring that December 19 was “the evening before the conception of Mary”.

One Messianic stated in an email:

“…the evening’ before the conception of Mary. “*** From Peter: For all of you awaiting the day of the conception of Yeshua, it will be in the early evening hours of Sunday. It occurred in the early evening when Miryam entered the home of Elizabeth. At that very moment in history the Messiah Yeshua, the Word/Torah was made flesh in the womb of Miryam.  peterm ” 2.

According to these people, the proof of the conception of Mary calculations are found in the writings of various Messianics practicing kabbalah and gematria, with the approximate time of conception believed to have fallen sometime in late November to late December. They proudly proclaim that this is exactly the period of time for the Festival of Chanukah, which is also when they believe the Magi arrived fifteen months later. Another said:

“…for Jews who light the Chanukiah this year, or for those who can learn from our customs, we should keep in mind that in our encounter with “darkness”, we don’t want to use the flame to burn and destroy the world, but rather, we want to use it to illuminate the whole world with Torah. We want to light the way for all the Nations so that they can prosper materially and spiritually. Even though they will never fully respond to this before the coming of Mashiach, we must still give them this prescription. It is the same as it was in the time of the Hellenistic oppression: by increasing our light, the darkness fades and the bright Morningstar arises.”3

Words cannot express how un-Scriptural these things are. The man-ordained celebration was never intended to represent the conception of Mary — and it is certainly not viewed like that in Judaism nor their writings in the Talmud or Zohar. Nor did Almighty God feel it necessary to suggest precisely how and when these things happened. However, that does not hinder many from delivering the intent of Hanukkah as being for Gentiles to join with the Jews in this celebration, so that the Jews can “illuminate the whole world.”  What a sharp contrast to the historical and original intent of the Maccabees–to separate from all Gentiles and their practices and beliefs, and also the current view of Hannukah by practicing Jews of Judaism.. And what a very sharp contrast to the Scripture where Jesus said He was the Light of the world.

John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”  [KJV]

Jesus also said those who followed Him were to be salt and light of the world.

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. [KJV]

Christians are told in the Scriptures to do the following:

Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Luke 24:44-47 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. [KJV]

Nowhere are we told to go into all the world and preach Torah, because it is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some Messianics have determined that the whole legend of the oil as being true and go on to declare that the original and specially designed menorah and all the symbolism was meant to symbolize Jesus. It is also being stated that the Jews were free to change what and how God ordained the Temple menorah and feasts to be. The belief is that the Maccabees wanted to make the holiday so much more special, (than the God commanded ones?) that they copied the Feast of Tabernacles, but changed the menorah to the 9 candles instead of the seven. The 9th candle is, according to them, used to light all others and represents Jesus. 4  Which of course is fully contrary to what Judaism teaches. And it is their celebration…

Some teach that the original Chanukiah, aside from the 9 candles, had the Star of Remphan, also called the Star of Moloch, emblazoned as a symbol on it and which people today refer to as the star of David.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica’s article, Magen David, acknowledges that the hexagram was used by  magicians in connection with Judah Maccabee.

” The oldest text mentioning a shield of David is contained in an explanation of a magical “alphabet of the angel Metatron”…among the Hasidei Ashkenaz of the 12th C. But here it was the holy Name of 72 names which was said to have been on this protective shield together with the name MKBY, which the tradition of the magicians connected with Judah Maccabee.” 5

Some of those very facts are discussed in the Kabbalah, Talismans and Masters of the Name and other articles in the series, “To Embrace Hebrew Roots.” 6

Of the many Scriptures concerning this are:

Acts 7:42,43 ” Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the STAR OF YOUR GOD REMPHAN, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

Amos 5:26-27 But ye have born the tabernacle of your Moloch, and Chiun (Remphan) your images, the STAR OF YOUR GOD, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore, will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord…

Exodus 25:30 And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me alway.
31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.  [KJV]

God dealt with the issue of the star of remphan/chiun/molech that some in Israel went after…

Referencing Strong’s Concordance about Remphan, we see:

4481 Rhemphan [hrem-fan'] by incorrect transliteration for a word of Hebrew origin 3594; n pr m AV – Remphan 1; 1 Remphan = “the shrunken (as lifeless)” 1) the name of an idol worshipped secretly by the Israelites in the wilderness.”

3594 Kiyuwn [kee-yoon'] from 3559; n pr dei AV – Chiun 1; 1 Chiun = “an image” or “pillar” 1) probably a statue of the Assyrian-Babylonian god of the planet Saturn and used to symbolise Israelite apostasy.”

Various articles reference The Talisman of Saturn, which involves a pentagram and a hexagram. From one occult source concerning the use of this symbol:

“On the first face is engraved…a pentagram or a star with five points. On the other side is engraved a bull’s head enclosed in a SIX-POINTED STAR, and surrounded by letters composing the name REMPHA, THE PLANETARY GENIUS OF SATURN, according to the alphabet of the Magi.” (Christian, p. 304-5) 7

In other words, the hexagram used today as the star of David came historically from non-Biblical foundations. Some within Judaism openly admit that it came from Babylon.

The point is, neither Hannukah, nor the 9 candle menorah were ordained by God in the Scriptures. And it is to the Scriptures that we are to turn to confirm our beliefs and doctrine.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

James 1:21-22 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  [KJV]

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Myth. Christians believe Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

A. Obviously it is not, although some would be inclined to say it is the actual birth day of Christ. For those in Hebrew Roots, December 25 is anathema, and by using the pagan roots of secularism attempt to apply them to how Christians celebrate Christ’s birth. They push the “real date” back to the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall as the correct date, but do little to celebrate His birth in any case, as everything about “Jesus” is pagan and everything about keeping the feasts is right. Once the issue of the person and name of Jesus Christ being pagan is established as a ‘fact’, then the Scriptures can be overturned, which is done systematically, until the New Testament is believed to have been totally corrupted by pagans.

Christmas, although having many secular and unnecessary elements, for most Christians, means a time to publicly tell the story of the miracle of Jesus Christ’s birth and all related to it, including the fulfillment of prophecies. May we never be silent on these Truths.

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Original article and footnotes can be found here:

http://www.seekgod.ca/hr/hrfaqs4a2.htm#1

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Myth. Christians are pagan and are lost unless they turn to Hebrew roots. I’ve had many say that they ‘were just like I am’ ? years ago and given time they hope I will repent and come to the correct understanding, aka Hebrew Roots.

A. Aside from there being absolutely no Scripture to support this thinking, this belief is foundational for many in Hebrew Roots. The truth is, Christian belong to Jesus Christ and are saved by God’s grace –and it is not of themselves–it is a free gift from God. Salvation is not based on “returning to Hebrew Roots”, Jewish Roots or anything other than Believing Jesus Christ is the author of eternal life, and receiving that gift.. The accusation of Christians being pagan is false from that perspective. It needs to be understood that many in Hebrew Roots reject the person of Jesus Christ as pagan also. That is why they reject His name, believing it to be the name of a pagan god or other nonsense.

Are there things under the banner of “Christian” that are not of God, not Scriptural, not proven as true? Obviously. There is also a merging of New Age and occult teachings and beliefs–also under the banner of Christian—but it is not of Christ. That does not mean that what Hebrew Roots offers is Scriptural, and factually sound. On the contrary much of what is promoted is un-Scriptural, based on feelings, opinion, conjecture, bogus “facts”, and perverting and twisting the Word of God. And when that isn’t good enough, some write their own versions of “scripture” to indoctrinate their followers even further. Accuracy is tossed aside in order to claim and promote their gnostic knowledge.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

http://www.seekgod.ca/hr/hrfaqs.htm#idioms

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Many state and believe that this means that because Jesus was a Jew and followed Torah we must also. The Gentiles, who make a large part of the Messianic and Hebrew Roots movements are not Jewish. Therefore one cannot ‘go back’ to something that was not ours in the first place. There are Jews worldwide who find it an affront for Gentiles pretending to be Jewish, pretending to participate in what they feel are Jewish traditions and practices. In it is perhaps the ultimate anti-semitism, because the behaviors not only offend actual Jews, but Gentiles are known to be claiming to be the real Jews. That leaves those who are actual Jews as being imposters according to some within Hebrew Roots. We see then, that we have the doctrine of Jesus was Jewish being corrupted into being those within Hebrew Roots are the ‘real Jews’ and they are the ones having the only truth.

Christianity and Judaism are almost entirely different in beliefs, and those who do not understand that have become a stumbling block to Jews. Those within Judaism reject Jesus Christ, the New Testament and reinterpret prophecies and other Scriptures with that in mind, aside from the incorporation of the Talmud and Kabbalah by many.  Judaism today is rabbinic Judaism. We cannot dismiss those facts. There are practicing Jews who have stated that those within Hebrew Roots and Messianics are straddling a fence with one foot in Judaism and one foot in Christianity. They urge that individuals make a choice on which they are actually going to follow, because it cannot be both.

We are followers of Jesus Christ who was God manifest in the flesh. And He brought a New Covenant that was unique.

Hebrews 3:1 Why, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. 3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who has built the house has more honor than the house.
4 For every house is built by some man; but he that built all things is God.
5 And Moses truly was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

http://www.seekgod.ca/hr/hrfaqs.htm#idioms

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Purim is recorded in the book of Esther in the Scriptures and was focused on the Jewish people and states clearly concerning the remembrance of Purim, in Esther 9:26-32, “The Jews ordained, and took upon them,” and “as they had decreed for themselves…”.

The book of Esther tell the story of the Jewish people and how they were saved from being destroyed by a subversive plot brought on by the jealousy and anger of Haman, an enemy of the Jews. Esther is the “heroine” of the story having presented herself before the King after a fast of three days – that he would accept her to come into his presence to speak of the plot against her and her people – which he did. Horrified at what Haman had done, the King had him hung with his ten sons on the gallows meant for Esther’s uncle Mordechai who had incited Haman to wrath by not bowing down in obeisance to him – which had led Haman to conceive the plot against the Jews.

When the Jews successfully fought and won against those who were sent to destroy them, as the edict could not be canceled;  the King allowed them to take up arms to fight – a time of rejoicing and celebration ensued. It was then decided to continue with a celebration yearly to commemorate the victory. Queen Esther signed a decree confirming the feast of Purim. The word “Purim” is a Chaldean word [“pagan” language] that means “lots” and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.


It originally was viewed as non-religious and in an article “Purim”, written by Kaufmann Kohler and Henry Malter for the Jewish Encyclopeidia.com

“…Aside from the much-mooted question whether Purim is of Jewish or of heathen origin, it is certain that, as it appears in the Book of Esther, the festival is altogether devoid of religious spirit—an anomaly in Jewish religious history. This is due to the worldly spirit of the Book of Esther. The only religious allusions therein are the mention of fasting in iv. 16 and ix. 31, and perhaps the expression of confidence in the deliverance of Israel in iv. 14. This secular character has on the whole been most prominent in this festival at all times. Like Ḥanukkah, it has never been universally considered a religious holy day, in spite of the fact that it is designated by the term “yom-ṭob” (Esth. ix. 19, 22.). Accordingly business transactions and even manual labor are allowed on Purim, although in certain places restrictions have been imposed on work (Shulḥan ‘Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 696).

… It seems, therefore, that the observance of Purim was at first merely of a convivial and social nature. Gradually it assumed religious features….

The first religious ceremony ordained for the celebration of Purim is the reading of the Book of Esther in the synagogue, a regulation ascribed in the Talmud (Meg. 2a) to the “Men of the Great Synod,” of which Mordecai is reported to have been a member…” 1

From the article Legend of Hanukkah>

“… In Rabbi Hyam Maccoby’s, Revolution in Judaea, and as discussed in the article, To Embrace Hebrew Roots: Part II : The Bible & The Talmud, he noted that:

In the volume, Josephus, the historian, also contrasts the views of the Pharisees and Sadducees regarding the Oral Law:

“…the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses; and it is for this reason that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, and not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers. ” 22

In defense and support of the Pharisees, Hyam Maccoby adds this tribute to their preservation and multiplying of religious rituals and traditions:

“The Pharisees added new Festivals (Chanukah and Purim) to the Jewish religious year; they added to the canon of Scripture…they added new doctrine to Judaism…they added new rites to the Temple worship…as well as being continual creators of new prayers and ceremonies in the synagogue.” 23.” 2

From the Wisdom of Kabbalah newsletter and their online site kabbalah.info, Purim is discussed in the article The Inner Purim:

“Purim – the holiday of opposites – joy vs. grief, concealment vs. disclosure, Mordechay vs. Haman, genocide vs. redemption…

A Kabbalist is a person who seeks deep inside the causes for the events in his life . It is evident to him that whatever it is he is about to discover, already lies within him, waiting. All he has to learn is how to come in contact with the force that makes things happen. That force will lead and guide him to control the future events of his life, his personal happiness and the bounty that will flow through him to the whole of mankind.

In the eyes of Kabbalah, Megilat Esther tells of the forces that unfold in the innermost parts of man. Forces that tell of what one discovers with one’s relationship with the Creator, the forces that guides the events of everybody’s life. These forces are called Mordechay, Esther, Haman, etc. … Mordechay, the inner force within a Jew, which wants nothing more than to cling to the Creator and worship Him, lived happily and the kingdom was at peace…

The evil Haman, who represents the egotistical in us, the opposite of the Jew, wants to exploit the situation for self gain. He eventually wants to overthrow the king from his thrown.

He believes that the fact that the Jews are dispersed testifies to their weakness, confusion and lack of faith. Therefore he finds the situation to be a rate opportunity to eliminate the Jews from the face of the earth, as they are the sole force that stands between him and exploiting the Creator. …

What Haman fails to understand, however, is that the Jews are dispersed for a reason. It stems from the fact that the people of Israel has risen to a higher level now.

That higher level means a direct and open contact with the Creator. A bond so open, no one will be able to deny. Indeed we see the truth of it when at the end of the story, all peoples reform. The meaning is that all the desires in man, called Peoples, accept the main force that leads to confidence and happiness, called Israel. ….The Jew in a man is limited. That limitation can only be overcome by the evil Haman. That is why we need to find the Haman within us. ….”3

As we can see, Purim has religious and mystical meaning to those practicing Judaism. Purim was not a feast of the Lord.  It was in honor of victory over the enemy of the Jews, not a shadow of Christ like the Feasts that God had given to Israel to observe. Purim, as it is celebrated Rabbinically, puts the emphasis on the person. The Feasts of the Lord were a shadow, a prophecy of Jesus Christ and focused on Him, the fulfillment of those prophecies.

Although there is not any evidence that Purim was kept in the Old Testament other than in the book of Esther, Judaism has continued to keep this holiday under the instruction of the Talmud. The earliest reference to this celebratory holiday is in the second century CE.

Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which is usually in March. The 13th of Adar is the day that Haman chose for the extermination of the Jews, and the day that the Jews battled their enemies for their lives. On the day afterwards, the 14th, they celebrated their survival. In cities that were walled in the time of Joshua, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month, because the book of Esther says that in Shushan (a walled city), deliverance from the massacre was not complete until the next day. The 15th is referred to as Shushan Purim.” 4

The Talmud is explicit in its Rabbinical instructions for keeping Purim, which is mandatory in Judaism.
* Hear the reading of the book of Esther called the Megillah [scroll]. The Megillah must be read in the evening before Purim and the morning of, in accordance with the commandment as found in the Talmud.

* Hiss, boo, stomp and rattle “gragers” (noise makers) whenever the name of Haman is mentioned so that his name is blotted out.

* Eat, drink and be merry – the Talmud instructs that “a person is required to drink until he cannot tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai,” though opinions differ as to exactly how drunk that is.”

* The Jews are commanded to send out gifs of food and drink, and to give gifts to charity. One popular food item are “hamentaschen” (Haman’s pockets – also known as oznei haman, or Haman’s ears) – a type of triangular (3 cornered hat] shaped cookie filled with fruit preserves or poppy seed filling.

* Out of respect for the holiday people should not work or go about their normal business, but it is not considered a “Sabbath”.

* Fasting
As the story goes in Esther, she fasts for three days and three nights, requesting that all Jews in Shushan and her maids do the same so that the King will receive her in his court. The Rabbinical instructions for this fast for Purim only require one day of fasting, although some do additional fasting after Purim. 5

“Since the Fast of Esther is not one of the four Fast days which are specifically mentioned in the Prophetic Writings, it is observed with greater leniency than the other Fast days. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, as well as others of generally weak health, (who would suffer by fasting) do not fast therein. The additional penitential prayers, and the Torah Reading, which are prescribed for the other Fast days are also required for the Fast of Esther. 6

* Dressing up in costumes with masks for parades is all part of the fun and most definitely one of the favorite parts of celebrating Purim. Today, the children even dress up as Disney characters and super heroes. 7

It is customary to hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, to perform plays and parodies, and to hold beauty contests. I have heard that the usual prohibitions against cross-dressing are lifted during this holiday, but I am not certain about that. Americans sometimes refer to Purim as the Jewish Mardi Gras” 8

In Israel, however, Purim is as intensely ruckus as Carnival in Brazil or Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Every city, large and small, has a parade. The one in Tel Aviv is so over-the-top that cross-dressing drag queens can usually be seen mingling amongst the clown-clad kiddies.”

“School children often have multiple costumes. After all, why pick just one superhero or princess when your teacher lets you come in costume the whole week! In the days leading up to Purim, even teachers and administrators come to school in costume.”

“The actual day of Purim is a holiday from school, so that is when kids attend their neighborhood Purim party, sponsored by the local community centers. These affairs are loud and rocking, with blaring DJs, smoke machines and copious amounts of junk food. Teenagers get in on the action at night, when there parties feature perhaps mellower music, but a near hyper-like consumption of alcohol.”

“While there is no trick-or-treating on Purim, the holiday still has that Halloween-like quality that most likely comes from ingesting way too many sugared treats. Religious and secular alike in Israel can be seen on Purim morning delivering baskets of food – usually sweet pastries and candy toffees – to their friends and family members.” 9

The “celebrations” included reading the story of Esther. When the reader came to the name “Mordechai”, everyone was supposed to cheer and clap. When the reader came to the name “Haman”,  all booed and hissed their disapproval.

Other traditions include:

Hamantashen – a triangular-shaped, poppy seed filled pastry. The name was intentionally distorted to “Hamantashan” which means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish. Some say that Haman wore a three-cornered hat, and that is why the pocket of dough is triangular.

In Hebrew, the pastry is called “Oznei Haman” which means Haman’s ears. This name may have come from the midrash which says that when Haman entered the King’s treasury, he was bent over with shame and humiliation (literally with clipped ears).

Mishloach Manot (literally “sending of portions”) is another Purim food tradition. These are baskets filled with cakes, cookies, nuts, fruits and other treats given to neighbors, friends, and especially the needy. Hamantashen is often the centerpiece of these food baskets.

Seudat Purim – It is traditional to have a Purim Seudah (feast) on Purim day. At this meal, some serve an especially long, braided challah (in memory of the rope used to hang Haman), soup with kreplach (triangular shaped in memory of Haman’s hat), and turkey (in memory of King Ahasuerus’s reign from India (“Hodu”) to Ethiopia and of his foolishness).
Others have a vegetarian meal since Esther ate as a vegetarian in order to keep kosher in the King’s Palace. Of course, for dessert there is hamantashen. 10

Some Messianic Judaism congregations actually pass out lists of Jewish musicians and movie stars as suggestions for dress up, as well as Biblical characters. The mixing of secular and religious seems hypocritical when considering these same “gentile Jews” ridicule Christians for dressing up at Halloween and going trick or treating. The emphasis of the costumes for Purim is no different than Halloween – it is to hide evil behind a mask.

Purim is the most carnivalesque Jewish holiday. It is a day when norms are subverted and reversed to commemorate the reversal of fortune recorded in the Book of Esther. Purim is celebrated with drinking, dressing up, and satirical performances, all recalling the evil decrees of Haman that were ultimately overturned.11″

The custom to wear disguises on Purim in general is based on G-d’s hiding His identity in the Megillah of Esther. The salvation of the Jewish People seems to be accomplished through the actions of people alone, and G-d’s Name doesn’t appear once.

The custom to wear disguises on Purim and to appear as non-Jews is related to our father Yaakov’s wearing of Esav’s clothes when he received the blessings that were due him. It is as if we announce that just as Yaakov only had the outer appearance of Esav, but was inwardly holy and pure, so are all appearances of evil in Israel only external, and inwardly we remain a holy people.

This custom has also been related to a verse in the Torah: ‘And I shall surely hide My face on that day,’ on which the Rabbis comment: ‘Where does the Torah allude to Esther?’ It is said (Dvarim 31) : V’Anochi haster astir panai…’ (And I will surely hide My face…’ ‘haster’ = ‘to hide’ – and ‘haster’ and ‘Esther’ are phonetically alike). From this we learn that hiding one’s face is proper on the day of Esther.

You thus find of David, King of Israel, that he appears like a sinner, whereas in truth he excelled in piety. The same trait characterized our father Yaakov, whose righteousness was so much concealed from all eyes, that even his father Yitzchak failed to recognize his true self until Rivkah revealed his hidden traits and caused the blessings to be given to Yaakov who alone was worthy of them”. 12

Although there has been much debate on the amount of alcohol that one can consume and still not violate other commandments, there appears to be a rather extreme latitude within Rabbinical opinion as to just how drunk that is.

“When it comes to drinking on Purim, the Talmud clearly understood what the scroll of Esther (the Megillah) was all about. In practically every chapter of the Megillah, someone is imbibing heavily at a drinking party. And the scroll concludes with Mordecai’s instruction to the entire Jewish people to celebrate these days as “yemei mishteh v’simchah, days of drinking and rejoicing” (Esther 9:22).”

“Rava said: It is one’s duty levasumei, to make oneself fragrant [with wine] on Purim until one cannot tell the difference between ‘arur Haman’ (cursed be Haman) and ‘barukh Mordekhai’ (blessed be Mordecai)” (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 7b).

What degree of drunkenness is meant by this? The word levasumei is sometimes translated as “get mellow;” others simply say “drink.” The word levasumei, however, is from the same root as besamim (fragrant spices, like those that are smelled during Havdalah at the conclusion of the Sabbath). Minimally, one must drink so that others would smell it, although if they are also drunk, who would be able to check? Maximally, one must become, to use a technical term, “stinking drunk”. 13

The duty of “levasumei” [so drunk one cannot tell the difference between “cursed be Haman and blessed be Mordechai] is also defined through gematria, which is kabbalah.

Most people assume that one must become so befuddled that one can no longer distinguish between the most wicked of people and the most righteous. Some, however, have noted that the two phrases, “arur Haman” and “barukh Mordekhai” have the same numerical value according to the traditional counting of the Hebrew letters called gematria (502). This point is somewhat obscure. Are we to assume that people are sober enough to calculate the gematria of these phrases, but drunk enough to get the words confused because they have the same gematria? However puzzling, this seems to be the opinion of the 17th century halakhist R. Abraham Abele ben Hayyim haLevi Gombiner.” 14

The following story shows just how far the myth and legend of Purim is foundational to the understanding and celebrating with drunkeness, according to Rabbinical sources. Please note that this story is seen with humor, not seriously.

Alcohol and Swordplay Don’t Mix.
Perhaps the Talmud tells the following story in order to provide some degree of clarification of Rava’s requirement to get drunk: Rabbah and R. Zeira got together for Purim Seudah (the feast on the afternoon of Purim). They got very drunk, and Rabbah got up and cut R. Zeira’s throat (literally, Rabbah butchered him). The next day, Rabbah prayed on R. Zeira’s behalf and brought him back to life. A year later, Rabbah asked, “Would you like to have Purim Seudah with me again this year?” R. Zeira replied, “One cannot count on a miracle every time.” (Megillah 7b) Cute story, but what does it have to do with how much one is supposed to drink? Traditional interpreters have four basic approaches. The most eminent sources, including the Rosh, the Tur, and Yosef Karo, simply quote Rava’s statement that one “becomes fragrant” without any reference to the story of Rabbah. Presumably, R. Zeira had a hard night, but why should that spoil the party for everyone else?!” 15

Another reference in the Talmud to getting drunk on Purim:

How does one fulfill the obligation of the Purim Seudah? One should eat meat and prepare as nice a meal as one can afford and drink wine until one becomes drunk and falls asleep from drunkenness. (Laws of Megillah 2:15)” 16

If one is a follower of Jesus Christ and seeks to live according to New Testament guidelines, then participating in Purim according the customs of the Talmud would be against the Scriptures of the New Testament. What those in Hebrew Roots or those Messianics involved in this are doing, is no different than their railings against Christians for their participation with Christmas and Easter celebrations–which for true believers is focused on Jesus Christ’s birth, death and resurrection according to the inspired Word of God in the Bible. The keeping of feasts according to Talmudic/kabbalistic traditions and commandments are of man, not God. As Jesus said:

Matthew 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Matthew 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
6 … Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.


We are told explicitly in the NT:

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

endnotes:

1 http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=613&letter=P
2. http://www.seekgod.ca/legend.htm
3. http://www.kabbalah.info/engkab/holidays_eng/inner_purim.htm

4. http://www.holidays.net/purim/

5. ibid

6. http://www.ou.org/holidays/purim/fast_of_esther

7. http://www.holidays.net/purim/

8. http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday9.htmhttp & http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holiday9.html

9. http://www.holidays.net/purim/

10. http://judaism.about.com/od/purim/a/purimfood.htm

11. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays_Purim.shtml

12.http://www.ou.org/holidays/purim/why_we_wear_disguises_on_purim

13.http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Purim/At_Home/Meal/Drinking_on_Purim.shtml

14. ibid

15. ibid

16. ibid

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“The Blessing of the Sun” is getting quite a bit of press lately, so I thought I would post a little information on it. It appears to be a Rabbinical practice that has found its way into Hebrew Roots:

APRIL 2, 2009, 11:54 P.M. ET Love the Earth? Bless the Sun

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123872560930985495.html

By JULIE WIENER
According to Talmudic calculations, every 28 years the sun is in the exact position it occupied at the time of Creation. As it happens, that moment falls on Wednesday, April 8, of this year, at sunrise — just hours before Passover begins. There is a brief blessing for the occasion, too. It is called Birchat Hachamah, Hebrew for “blessing of the sun.” But the sun is a hot topic these days, not least because of global warming, and this time around the blessing, in itself, is not enough: A whole environmental message is being attached to what was once a simple ceremony.

The Hebrew blessing itself — the English translation is “Blessed are You, King of the Universe, who makes the works of creation” — is quite brief, its text the same as the blessing one is commanded to say upon seeing a natural wonder like lightning or the Grand Canyon. At its last scheduled recitation, back in 1981, Birchat Hachamah was virtually unheard of outside the Orthodox community. While approximately 300 “neo-chasidic” and “renewal” Jews, led by Orthodox rabbis Zalman Schachter and Shlomo Carlebach, commemorated the moment atop the Empire State Building, the event generated little media coverage, and most people who recited the blessing simply did so as a postscript to daily morning services in Orthodox synagogues. In 1953, according to Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, the ritual didn’t even garner a mention in “The American Jewish Yearbook.”

The year 5769 (2008-2009) will be the little known Jewish year of “Birkhat HaHammah” the “blessing of the sun.” Every 28 years, the ancient rabbis demarked a time in the Jewish calendar that celebrates the ceremonial return of the sun to its original place in the cosmos during creation.

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

http://www.jrf.org/birkat-hahammah

Tradition holds that the sun was created at the spring equinox, the first hour of the night before the fourth day of Creation. Every 10,227 days – according to the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Berachot 59b – the sun returns to its position at Creation. As codified in the Shulchan Aruch and on the basis of intricate calculations reconciling the Jewish and Gregorian calendars, Birkat HaChammah, a prayer service marking this 28-year cycle, is conducted on a Wednesday in the month of Nissan, when the sun is about 90 degrees above the eastern horizon.

The year 5769 is such a year. The Blessing of the Sun takes place on April 8, 2009 (erev Pesach). It is interesting to note that the secular date was the same throughout the 20th century, and scholars have determined it will continue to be marked on this date throughout the current century.

http://www.ritualwell.org/holidays/sitef…411107743/

Here is a Messianic teaching on it from FFOZ – First Fruits of Zion, headed by Boaz Michaels. FFOZ is known for their kabbalistic and Talmudic teachings as they are incorporated into the Hebrew Roots venue.

A certain traditional Jewish ceremony has been in the news and blogs lately, known as Birkat HaChammah, or the Blessing of the Sun. This blessing is recited on an extraordinarily infrequent basis: only once every 28 years! The last time it was recited was 1981, which means that this is the year for the blessing to come around again.

If you have heard of this blessing for the first time this year, it may have aroused your suspicion. Is it legitimate, or some weird idea out of nowhere?

Good news: the blessing is not pagan, new age, magical, astrological, or even kabbalistic. The origin of the blessing is at least from the Talmudic era (c. 200-500 CE), although it could be earlier. It is possible that the blessing existed in the days of the Master and the apostles.

The idea behind the blessing is simple. The universe is comprised of a wide variety of cycles. From earth, those cycles appear as day and night, the phases of the moon, the courses of planets through their backdrop of stars, the changing of the seasons, etc. Many practices in Judaism are connected with these cycles, such as the daily prayers, the new moons, and the yearly holidays. This corresponds with God’s intended purpose: “let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14).

The 28 Year Cycle of the Sun

Like the moon and planets, the sun itself can be seen as going through a cycle. Throughout the year, the sun’s position in the sky changes, corresponding with the variety of seasons. There are four milestones in these fluctuations: the two solstices (winter and summer) and the two equinoxes (autumn and spring).

One Jewish tradition holds that the sun was created in the position of the spring (vernal) equinox. Thus, each spring, the sun completes a yearly cycle.

The Torah (Genesis 1:14-19) teaches that the sun was created on the fourth day. The fourth day of the week is the period from Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon. Once in seven years, the spring equinox occurs during that period of the week. So in a sense, every seven years, when the spring equinox occurs on the fourth day, we can consider the sun as having completed another, larger cycle.

The day can be divided into four parts: evening, night, morning and afternoon. According to Jewish tradition, the sun was not only created during the fourth day, but specifically the first part of the day, that is, the evening. The evening of the fourth day of the week corresponds with Tuesday evening.

Each year, the exact moment of the equinox could occur in any of those four parts of the day, adding a factor of four to our cycle. When all three of those factors coincide (the spring equinox of the year, the fourth day of the week, and the evening part of the day), we could consider the sun as having completed a full cycle, bringing it back to its original point at the time of creation.

This cycle occurs once every 28 years, which makes sense if you think about it:Spring equinox:1 day each year
Fourth day:1 out of 7 days of the week
First part of day:1 out of 4 parts of the day
1 year × 7 × 4 = 28 years.

The Blessing

The blessing itself is not uncommon. Like most blessings in Judaism, it begins with the phrase “Blessed are You, O LORD, our God, King of the universe.” While the name of the blessing is “the blessing of the sun,” we don’t actually bless the sun, we bless God.

The Symbolism of Birkat HaChammah

Birkat HaChammah does not have any inherent symbolism, except to say that a natural cycle has occurred, which prompts us to bless the Creator. But on the other hand, it is very easy to draw out symbolism from the ceremony. In fact, it is so easy to draw out symbolism that the ceremony reflects whatever community or individual recites it. To environmentalists, the blessing has a message of global warming or conservation. To mystics, the ceremony spurs deep and esoteric ideas. To rationalists, the ceremony is naturalistic. To messianics, the ceremony is ripe with messianic imagery.

Consider this: since the ceremony marks the return of the sun to its original position at the time of creation, it can be seen as a token for a return of the created world to its original, perfect condition. This is what will occur with the ultimate messianic redemption. This ceremony always occurs in the month of Nisan, which is called the month of redemption. It is the month of the year that God redeemed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and in some opinions, it is the destined time of the future redemption (b.Rosh Hashanah 11a).

Also of interest is the connection between the Messiah and sun imagery. In the Talmud (b.Sandhedrin 98b), a statement is made connecting this verse with the Messiah:

May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed! (Psalm 72:17)

This entire Psalm has very strong messianic overtones, as it was written by King David for his son, Solomon. An earlier verse in the same chapter also contains sun imagery. This verse is often included in the liturgy for Birkat HaChammah:

May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! (Psalm 72:5)
(One fascinating feature of this Psalm is that it contains “encoded” within it both the names “Messiah” and “Yeshua.”)

It is worth remembering that Joseph, who strongly foreshadowed the Messiah, had a dream in which the sun bowed down to him (Genesis 37:9).
Also of note is the identification between the sun and light and the Messiah himself. The prophets speak of the “sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2) and tell of the redemption and the Messiah in terms of light. The apostles frequently connect the Messiah to light and brilliance.

One amazing moment when this connection was exemplified was the transfiguration, when “his face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). Perhaps the transfiguration is a good topic of study for the event. The transfiguration always makes me think of this beautiful passage from Yalkut Shimoni (a late compilation of aggadic midrash):

At the time when King Messiah comes, he will stand on the roof of the Holy Temple, and he will proclaim to Israel, saying: “Humble ones! The time of your redemption has arrived! And if you don’t believe me, look at my light which is shining upon you!” (Yalkut Shimoni Yeshayahu 60:499)

This Year’s Unique Timing

This year, the ceremony of Birkat HaChammah remarkably coincides with the day prior to the Passover seder (April 8). This is the day of the year when we burn our leftover chametz (leaven), and when the Temple stood, it was the day when the Passover lambs were slaughtered. Since Birkat HaChammah is based on a solar cycle rather than a lunar one, the date of Birkat HaChammah on the Hebrew calendar varies, and the correspondence between these two events is rare. Many people feel that this connection has messianic or redemptive implications.

(Some of you may have noted that the spring equinox this year has already occurred. The discrepancy is due to the fact that when this tradition first developed, the Sages chose the simpler and less accurate Julian calendar for reckoning the equinox. This has slowly shifted and become less and less accurate over time. But as this event is more symbolic rather than astronomical, it is not really a concern.)

Once in 28 Years

I want to really encourage you to participate in this ceremony. Try and gather a minyan if at all possible. Think about it: if humanity continues on its current path, the next time the opportunity for this blessing will occur, it will be the year 2038. At that time, you will probably have children about your age now. Most likely, many people reading this will not be alive. Many new people will have been born. Technology will be dramatically different. It is impossible to predict what the political world will be like.

Due to advances in communication and education, this Birkat HaChammah has the potential to be the most widely observed in all of history. Are you going to join the worldwide chorus?

http://ffoz.org/blogs/2009/03/birkat_hac…ssing.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the SeekGod Forum – posted by Vic

http://www.seekgod.ca/forum/showthread.php?tid=232&pid=1611#pid1611

Bless the Sun actually has a website, promoting the Jewish tradition as well as noting how it melds with earth/envirnmental groups. They also have a list of events taking place across the United States, as well as Israel.

It was rather a surprise to see a few listings stating the following:

…GEORGIA
Time: 6:45 – 7:15am, April 8 (followed by breakfast)
Place: Grant Park Bandstand, Atlanta (at the corner of Boulevard and Atlanta – across from the playground)
What: A short service, a gentle yoga cycle of sun salutations and recite the blessing together. For those that can stay we will have breakfast and coffee at the near by Solstice Café. Bring your yoga mat or towel. For more information,…

And >

Quote:MARYLAND Time: April 8, 7:15am yoga and 8:30am prayer and study
Place: Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, 7727 Persimmon Tree Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817

What: Birkat Hakhama and Ta’anit HaBechorot observances beginning with yoga, followed by prayer and study using Masekhet HaKhama

Many celebrations listed include a Fast for the Firstborn, and that aside from the talmud sourcing we see also listed from Israel:

Place: Safed/Tzfat
What: SUN BLESSING FESTIVAL – BIRKAT HaCHAMA FESTIVAL
For Whom: Northern Galilee and Israel, International

Time: April 8-15
Place: Tsfat (Safed), Israel
What: Kabbalah, Tours Prayers, Ceremony, Hallel, Art shows, Workshops, Solar Energy presentations and much more
For Whom: All walks of life are WELCOME!

…. http://www.sunblessing.org/festival


From that website, we read:

Birkat HaChama Festival in SAFED, April 8-15, 2009

The Birkat HaChama (The Blessing of the Sun) Festival will begin on the morning of April 8th, Erev Pesach, next Spring 2009. Erev Pesach (literally, the Eve of Passover) is the day preceding the annual seven-day Festival of Freedom.

The actual Blessing of the Sun Prayer will be recited on Erev Pesach morning (Hebrew date: 14 Nissan 5769). According to ancient Jewish tradition, once every 28 years, the Sun returns to the position it occupied when it was created at the beginning of the fourth day of creation (Genesis 1: 14).

THE SUN IS OUR MAJOR ENERGY SOURCE, yet how often do we thank God …. This … is an invitation for us to co-create a better future, together, by honoring its source and each other. This is the first year after Shmita (in the Jewish tradition, every seventh year one stops all agricultural activities in order to let Mother Earth rest). Thus, this is a time to re-plant, to grow anew, and to bring fresh blossoms to the world. We are planting new seeds for a better future and for the renewal of the next 28-year cycle. The Kabbalists believe that the Messianic times will come at the end of a Shmita year, so let’s help in the miracle making! (See Kabbalistic Information for an explanation of the Kabbalistic tradition and the significance of the year leading up to this Passover 2009.)

This Safed-based Kabbalistic Blessing of the Sun Festival is…

A Modern Biblical Community Event
A Renewal of Alternative Solar Energies – recharging our environment for another 28-year cycle
An Evocation of Mystical Experiences, featuring a ceremony on the Metsudah, the ancient citadel in the geographic center of our town
A Celebration of Cultural Diversity, with musical performances, art displays, poetry readings, healing workshops,…
Is Blessed with Exceptional Timing, as it is considered by the Kadosh Elyon to be the third most auspicious Birkat HaChama in history

… let’s co-create the next 28-year cycle of a PURER ENVIRONMENT!

MISSION STATEMENT
This Sun Blessing Festival will be an opportunity for Bridging of worlds; culturally and traditionally, between non – religious and religious people in the Holy land and world wide. To mingle culturally and learn new alternative ideas and artistic methods. To invite and inspire people from all over the world to partake in a mystical Passover in the most Kabbalah-rich town in the world, which also happens to fall on Easter Sunday. ….

many Kabbalists discovered the secrets of Jewish mysticism, through the Zohar, attributed to Shimon Bar Yochai (whose tomb is in nearby Meron), master kabbalist Isaac Luria’s explanations of the Tree of Life, his revelation of the secrets of reincarnation, and his creation of the Kabbalat Shabbat ritual, ….

This Holy City is said to host the Shekhinah Herself (the female principle of God), so by our coming together to honor the Blessing of the Sun, in Her midst, we may be able to elicit and enhance the messianic times, B’ezrat HaShem. As a consequence, we may inspire our sister city Jerusalem to co-celebrate this event, as the Birkat HaChama is recited there at the Western Wall on Pesach 2009….

http://www.sunblessing.org/festival

Likely many in HR and Messianics will embrace this Talmudic and Kabbalistic celebration as is found with FFOZ, and others.

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